By His Bootstraps
While Heinlein used time travel in other places, it was always of a distant sort. If you are both willing to move 2000 years through time and declare yourself unsure of potential paradoxes, time traveling isn't that big a burden. You just get an interesting setting. This was Heinlein's one use of close time travel ...more
Robert A. Heinlein imagines an applied example of "immovable history" (my home-brewed term), which postulates that an actor is not able to change any events (past and future) of his/her life: s/he can only fulfill the history. The fantasy genre (and not only!) makes great use of the concept in the form of prophecies, while science-fiction mostly ...more
An intriguing and quick read that I'd recommend to anybody who doesn't mind a narrative that may leave you a bit dizzy.
FOR THE RECORD - it is published in Astounding Science Fiction 1941 under the alias Anson Macdonald. It was reprinted later under Robert Heinlein I believe.
My copy is not in good condition & has little real value..............except to me.
This story combines an ontological paradox with a predestination paradox in an entertaining way, with the main character being too dense to sort it out for himself until the very end. I understand Heinlein needed that to sustain the paradox, because if the character were able to figure out what was going on before he experienced it, he wouldn't have experienced it. I wa ...more
Note: Page count seems inconsistent on my Kindle. I believe the ...more
"By His Bootstraps" is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein that plays with some of the inherent paradoxes that would be caused by time travel. It was originally published in the October 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction (US) under the pen name Anson MacDonald.
He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre ...more
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“Well, didn’t you? You were there.”
“No, I didn’t—no… well, maybe I did, but it didn’t feel like it.”
“Why should you expect it to? It was something totally new to your experience.”
“But… but—” Wilson took a deep breath and got control of himself. Then he reached back into his academic philosophical concepts and produced the notion he had been struggling to express. “It denies all reasonable theories of causation. You would have me believe that causation can be completely circular. I went through because I came back from going through to persuade myself to go through. That’s silly.”
“Well, didn’t you?”